Solo exhibition Chrischa Venus Oswald
Muratcentoventidue, Bari
December 15 – February 15, 2019

Truth, in its deepest meaning, is not so much about rationally knowing, as it is about a feeling, a strong inner knowing for something that exists inside us. There is no question in truth, it is rather an answer that our body reveals. As a performer, the body can alternate moments of truth, resembling a movement, and thus function as a moment of sharing answers. 

Everything that exists, carries some kind of performativity: Space, nature, human beings, identity – we all evolve and change. It is this performativity of life that is so tangible in the work of artist Chrischa Venus Oswald.

She is inspired by encounters, mythological, ancient or popular stories, personal experiences or emotional thresholds and translates their traces into narrative video performances, photography, video, and poetry. In its form, her work is also demonstrating the fluid potential of an idea and its eventual manifestation. A digital still of a video can become a flag, get a physical body, for people to interact with and experience performativity in action. Transformation.

In her work, Oswald questions the functions of the body and the language that it speaks. A posture can reveal many hidden secrets, it can confront and protest, agree and deny. It can speak without words, and it is exactly this vocabulary that comes to expression in the work of Oswald. She finds a shape for the invisible, the encounters and processes that we are not always aware of. Her poetry and performance both reveal a bodily expression. Embodiment. It is as if they speak from another source than just the mind, adding several layers of perceptions. 

This potential of the body becomes visible through her critical engagement with both her own body and those of others. She questions the role of the observer, the performer, body, and voice, and doesn’t take the body separate from language, images, ideas, concepts; she looks at it as a site and source of curiosity, and sometimes playful exploration. By doing so Oswald identifies the body as a place of becoming – a place where new behaviors, thoughts, and feelings can arise; this is also true for the body of the spectator. Her performance work, as well as her poetry and photography, carry a sense of sensitivity and vulnerability, that translate the untranslatable, and emotions into images, with a tender touch. This soft and detailed approach is both confronting, sometimes unsettling and comforting at the same time; it requires a different way of seeing, a way that unveils life in all its colors. Journeys, actual ones, emotional ones, biographical ones, for Oswald, are not only about going somewhere but also about looking at the world with the gaze of the unknown. She seeks for the unusual, the little imperfections of life, turns them around and puts them up for display. 

Through looking closely at relationships, the human condition and existential issues Oswald reflects on the various aspects of life and turns emotions into images and images into words. The specificity of this way of seeing, intuitively, allude to the nature of life, it is an ontological view, it constitutes a relationship between body, space, and mind. In order to do so, she finds a way to merge art with life; questioning the limit of our gaze, understanding, perception and the language of the body.

Her work challenges, as much as it plays with, the vocabulary of the mind. Can we find answers in the supposedly unknown, in the mind of the not knowing? Maybe it is exactly this mystery that she keeps us longing for, staying open and curious for a possible truth that, also inspired by her works, we might find within ourselves.

by Sarie Nijboer

Image credits: Chrischa Venus Oswald